No! Is the resounding response from Moira Smith, General Manager for Goway’s Middle East and Africa division. Africa is of course a continent, not a single, small country, and the distances between tourism areas and Ebola affected areas is immense. There really isn’t much ‘tourism’ in West Africa, while most travellers make it to East Africa or Southern Africa. To put it in perspective, the distance between Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia, in West Africa (where the outbreaks are) and Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa is comparable to the distance between New York City, US and Manaus, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon – there is the whole of the USA, Mexico and Central America in-between. The map below, courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats, is a cartographer’s representation highlighting the vastness of Africa in comparison to other countries. This will help to better visualise the distance between the affected Ebola areas and the destinations that we sell. While we can’t ignore that Ebola is happening right now, the continent of Africa is enormous, and the regions affected are closer to Europe (Spain, etc) or Brazil, than East or Southern Africa.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) confirms that the risk of a tourist or businessman/woman becoming infected with Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas and developing disease after returning is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported! Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animal, all unlikely exposures for the average traveller.
The WHO is also taking stringent measures in asking countries affected by Ebola to conduct exit screenings of people leaving at international airports, seaports and major land crossings in order to prevent the virus spreading. The Government of Kenya has further decided to temporarily suspend entry into Kenya of passengers travelling from and through the affected West African countries.
That being said NONE of Goway’s destinations are affected areas so there is negligible risk to our customers, and all the Health Ministry’s in our portfolio confirm that this is so. We advise any travel agent with a client fearful of the well-publicised event to tackle it head on, beginning with the enormous distance between where they plan to go, and where the outbreak has occurred. For assistance, talk to one of our AfricaExperts, who’re happy to lend assistance or verbal support.